Owners of one of the nation’s leading storage units started the company in 1998 in Clearwater by delivering storage containers to local residence homes. As an alternative to expensive van lines, the PODS® packing and moving services rapidly gained traction across the country. The company’s unparalleled success drew on the owners’ business backgrounds. When the economy caused home prices to drop, PODS owners knew they needed to learn how to diversify their market through large businesses, universities, military, and other government entities.
In a quest to navigate a new market, PODS’ national sales director Brice Mitchell came to the Small Business Development Center’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center in 2010 to learn exactly how to enter, compete and win in the world of government contracting. His ultimate challenge was implementing a strategic approach so his 100 plus independent PODS franchise owners across the nation could successfully do business with the government.
Mitchell started meeting with PTACProcurement Technical Assistance Center Manager Charlene Bostic once a month to learn how to get on a GSA schedule and how to best market the schedule to federal agencies. She advised him on all federal and state certifications available for him, where to search for bid opportunities and introductions to SBDC workshops and opportunities to further his knowledge and contacts. Once on the GSA schedule, Bostic taught him how to use the tool
for when the President declares a state of emergency due to natural disasters such as a flood or hurricane. PODS registered with FEMA, the American Red Cross, National Guard, Army Corp. of Engineers and the FBI. Charlene taught Bruce which tradeshows and matchmaking events he needed to attend in order to network with key decision makers and contracting officers.
“The SBDC is like going to a business psychiatrist on a monthly basis— without paying a fee. Plus, they help you understand how the entire process works,” said Mitchell.
Understanding the process and registering was Mitchell’s first step. His next goals were to land the first contracts and to keep the momentum going. PODS soon proved to be successful in government contracting and continues to utilize PTACProcurement Technical Assistance Center to gain bigger contracts. As Mitchell continues to teach his 100 plus franchisers around the county how to sell to the government, he always starts out the sessions by telling the owners to meet with their local SBDC, first, before making any sales calls. Because of his success, Mitchell was asked to present as a panelist and exhibitor at PTACProcurement Technical Assistance Center’s 2012 25th Annual Government Small Business Conference to help other business owners along the path to success. PODS is currently exploring opportunities in Canada and is teaching those franchises how to do business with Canadian military and municipalities.
Examples of contracts PODS received and completed through PTACProcurement Technical Assistance Center:
The ARMY, FEMA, NAVY, FBI, HUD, Coast Guard, Homeland Security, Seminole Tribe, AAFES, NEXCOM, MCX, Tampa PD, City of St. Petersburg, San Diego District Attorney, San Diego County Dept. of Health, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Washington DC Housing and Community Development, Tucson Housing and Community Development, VA Hospitals, City of Birmingham, Denver Housing Authority, Boulder Housing Authority, Gateway School, IMG Academy, Hensel Phelps Construction, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Auburn University, Fort Bragg, Fort Bliss, Maxwell AFB, Smithsonian Institute, Texas A& M, and University of Rochester.